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10 Best Laptops for Programming in 2021: Reviewed and Tested

If you are a programmer, you should know your way around a laptop. But then, as the need for faster apps and better programs intensifies, programming seems to get trickier in time, urging the developer in you to rely on an exclusive laptop for programming. The best laptop for programming is harder to get by, especially when there are hardly any laptops in the market that are solely purchased for writing code or developing an app using the preferred framework.

The best laptop for programming isn’t simply the one with a massive portion of RAM or a fast processor. Firstly, it needs to adhere to the Virtualization requirements that most Intel core processors adhere to. The processor, in addition to this trait, must also showcase lower TDP levels as a developer is hardly at ease with a laptop that overheats.

Acer Nitro 5
Asus ZenBook Duo
  • 11th gen i9, 32GB RAM, 2TB HDD
  • Dual Display
  • 15.6-inch Display, 8 Hours Battery
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HP Pavilion 15
Dell XPS 15
  • Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, 15.6-inch.
  • 15.6 inch UHD+ display
  • Touchscreen with 8+ Hour Battery
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Asus TUF 15
HP Spectre
  • Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
  • 13.3-inch FHD with 14+ Hours Battery Life
  • Convertible
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Lenovo Legion 5
Apple MacBook Pro 16
  • Intel Core i7 with 16GB RAM 1TB SSD
  • 16-inch Retina Display
  • 11 Hours Battery with Touch ID
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MSI GF5 Leopard
Lenovo Thinkpad
  • Intel i7 with 32 GB RAM & 1 TB SSD
  • Excellent Performance
  • 15.6-inch FHD with 6+ Hours battery
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Lenovo IdeaPad L340
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
  • Core i7, 16 GB RAM with 1TB SSD
  • 13.5-inch PixelSnse
  • TPM security chip , 11.5 hours Battery
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Acer Aspire 7
LG Gram 17
  • Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM with 512 GB SSD
  • 17-inch WQXGA
  • 19+ hours Battery, Ultralight
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Dell G3 3500
Acer Aspire 5
  • Core i5 with 8 GB RAM & 1 TB SSD
  • 15.6-inch FHD Display
  • Affordable, 7+ Hours Battery
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Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Pro
Huawei Matebook
  • 10th gen i5 + 16 GB RAM with 256 GB SSD
  • 13.9-inch Display
  • 3K Resolution+ hour Battery
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MSI GP65 Leopard
Apple MacBook Air
  • Apple M1 Chip, 8 GB RAM with 256 GB SSD
  • 13.3-inch IPS Display
  • 15+Hours Battery with Ultrafast chip
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Best Laptop for Programming: My Top Choice

If you are serious about programming, you should certainly consider the potent Asus ZenBook Pro Duo as your primary notebook. Equipped with a revolutionary Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of high-speed RAM, this is one of the more promising and feature-packed programming laptops around. What makes it more conducive to programming and app development is the availability of a secondary display.

Apart from the features concerning the processor, a reliable laptop for programming must have longish battery life for working even while being on the move, excellent screen quality, ultrafast SSD storage, and an operating system that is in line with user expectations.

Finding all these attributes stacked under the same roof can be tricky if you do not know where to look for them. This is the reason why the following list has been created in the first place, allowing you to choose between the best laptops for programmers, coders, and app developers, alike.

Minimum Specifications List

Note: Best laptops for programmers and coders aren’t only about a few good traits. Therefore, the next time you plan on putting your money on a similar notebook, make sure that it at least has the minimum specifications that might come in handy when it comes to developing something.

  • CPU: 8th gen Intel Core i5
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Screen: 14-inch FHD
  • Battery: 6+ Hours
  • OS: Windows 10 

10 Best Laptops for Programming, Coding, and More

If you wish to find the best laptop for coding, basic programming, complex computing, and even full-fledged app development, here is the list you need to be privy of. The list includes some premium laptops, quite a few steady mid-rangers, and even a few affordable models for budget seekers. 

1. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo: Best in Every Aspect

Asus ZenBook Duo
  • CPU: 9th generation Intel Core i9
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 2TB SSD
  • Screen: 15+-inch 4K
  • Battery: 6+ Hours
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review

If you seek efficiency over any other feature, it is better to opt for the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo over any other laptop. While the specs sheet on offer is better than other programming laptops, you end up getting a  lot of fun bits with this one, including Wi-Fi 6, backlit keyboard, HD webcam, and a wide range of ports, including the elusive Thunderbolt 3. 

Design and Display

The ZenBook Pro Duo is the pinnacle of craftsmanship, featuring a metallic chassis and a hefty form factor, weighing 6 pounds. However, it is the display configuration that makes most sense with Asus incorporating a 15.6-inch primary 4K panel followed by an 11-inch 4K matte secondary display.

Internals

The Pro Duo is the best resource for workstation-like workload as it stacks 32GB of system memory. The SODIMM RAM module is fast and ensures that code renders take the least possible time. The 2TB SSD storage unit is one of the better selections to rely on. 

Productivity

The i9-9980HK processor is a force to reckon with. Most importantly, the 5.0GHz turbo clock speed allows you to handle multiple lines of code, web-based code editors, IDEs, and other resources with precision.

However, if you are also an enthusiastic gamer, Asus offers the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 2060 graphics card, paired with 6GB video RAM for faster rendering. Also, if your programmed code leads to a VR-ready application, this is the go-to laptop to test it on. 

In terms of performance, there aren’t many laptops for programming that can match up to the ZenBook Pro Duo. Plus, if you are purchasing it from Amazon, even the refurbished model makes sense. 

PROS

  • Fast processor
  • Massive storage space
  • 32GB of RAM
  • Dual-display support
  • USB-C port with Thunderbolt compatibility

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Heavy

2. Dell XPS 15 9500: Best Aesthetics

Dell XPS 15 9500
  • CPU: 10th generation Intel Core i7
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Screen: 15.6-inch UHD+
  • Battery: 8+ Hours
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review 

The new XPS 15 9500 should be your go to clamshell laptop for programming if you seek touch screen support over other specs. Also, if the price seems way too high for the new variant, select online stores let you pick credible refurbished models, provided you check the warranty beforehand. 

Design and Display

The Dell XPS 15 9500 is made of metal and sports rounded diamond-cut edges. Moreover, the backlit keyboard is a sight to behold in addition to the 62 percent bigger trackpad and a smaller footprint as compared to the predecessors.

The 15.6-inch panel is probably the best on the list, with UHD+ resolution, 94 percent color gamut, and DisplayHDR 400 technology leading the way. If you are an avid programmer, the EyeSafe technology is something to be proud of. 

What adds to the display quality is the corning gorilla glass 6, boasting damage resistance and advanced durability against blemishes. 

Internals 

The Dell XPS 15 has 16GB RAM for you to work with. Storage-wise, you get a 1TB solid state drive that is fast and even lets you get the best boot-up speeds for the Windows 10 OS. 

Productivity

The 10th gen Intel Core i7 processor hails from the H-series of chipset, best known for the exceptional clock speeds and the ability to handle most processes with ease. You also get hold of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics card, in case casual gaming becomes one of your priorities.

Overall, the Dell XPS 15 seems like the best option to go for if you are in the market for the best laptops for programmers that offer the best display, exceptional aesthetics, and also touch screen support. 

PROS

  • Brilliant and color-accurate screen
  • 10th gen Intel Core processor lends the best processing power
  • Okaish battery life for such a bright screen
  • One of the best laptops with touch screen support
  • Enough RAM for precise app development

CONS

  • Costly

3. HP Spectre x360: Best Convertible

HP Spectre x360
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Screen: 13.3-inch FHD
  • Battery: 14+ Hours
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review

The Spectre x360 from HP is a convertible laptop, best suited for programmers who are always on the move. While there are several exceptional traits on offer, it is the fingerprint scanner followed by quad speakers, audio boost, and a clear webcam that add to its functionality. 

Design and Display

Layered by fine metal, this laptop assumes a multi-mode structure and weighs less than 3 pounds. However, it is the 13.3-inch screen that makes it different and functional. While the screen size is good for carrying the laptop around, the screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels adds to the color accuracy and depth. 

Internals

HP makes do with 16 GB RAM, which is more than adequate considering the dimensions and responsibilities. The storage unit at 512GB is more than respectable and good enough for most professionals.

Productivity

As compared to any other laptop where RAM is set at 8GB, 16GB, screen 13.3 inches, and 512GB SSD associated with the Spectre x360 make a world of difference to overall functionality. However, the 16 GB RAM finds support in the graphics-optimized Intel Core i7 processor and the Intel Iris Plus graphics. 

In addition to the mentioned specs, you also get access to Thunderbolt 3 port and other USB slots for improved connectivity. 

PROS

  • Excellent battery life
  • Touchscreen
  • High-speed intel core processor
  • 512 GB SSD for faster file retrievals
  • Integrated graphics Intel Iris Plus

CONS

  • Smaller screen size
  • Not meant for graphics-intensive tasks

4. Apple MacBook Pro 16: Best from Apple

Apple MacBook Pro 16
  • CPU: Core i7-9750H
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Screen: 16-inch Retina Display (3072 x 1920)
  • Battery: 11+ Hours
  • OS: macOS
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Review

To be honest, there is a better laptop in the market than the Apple MacBook Pro 16 when it comes to assisting programmers, codes, and developers alike. What adds to the functionality is the inclusion of 4 thunderbolt 3 ports. 

Design and Display

The MacBook Pro 16-inch model is metal-clad and weighs a tad less than the 5 pound mark. The 2021 variants flaunts a pretty expected layout and even paves the way for a 16-inch display. The retina display is sharp whereas the IPS screen adds to the color accuracy of the same.

Internals

As opposed to laptops with RAM 8GB, 16GB offered by the MacBook Pro seems way more functional. Plus, the 1TB storage space is fast and allows you to load the macOS in no time. 

Productivity

The Core i7 processor is exceedingly powerful. However, you can even get a model with the Core i9 processor, which also has the 1TB SSD in place. The i7 variant offers 512 GB SSD which is still good enough.

The AMD Radeon Pro 5500 M graphics card persists but you can also use the Intel UHD graphics for the least demanding tasks.

PROS

  • Perfect screen size
  • Powerful processor
  • Fantastic display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Four TB 3 ports for setting up virtual displays

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Lacks Wi-Fi 6

5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme: Best for Developers

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
  • CPU: Intel i7-9750H
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Screen: 15.6-inch FHD
  • Battery: 6+ Hours
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a proper business laptop that balances professionalism perfectly with pricing. 

Design and Display

When it comes to the layout, the Lenovo ThinkPad packs in metallic accents with plastic undertones. The 15-inch screen is bright enough and offers anti-glare support. What makes most sense to a professional is the HDR 400 visual technology, allowing you to get your hands on the best sunlight visibility

Internals

The Lenovo ThinkPad comes loaded with 32GB RAM for faster processing. What follows is the 1TB solid state drive that is capable of speeding up multiple tasks, data retrievals, and OS loading. 

Productivity

The Intel i7 processor is quite a powerful computing ally, working alongside the mid-range graphics, GeForce GTX 1660. The overall processing setup is more than sufficient for programming across IDEs, code editors, and more.

PROS

  • High-end core i5,17 graphics processing units
  • Powerful business laptop
  • Massive RAM allotment
  • Voluminous storage

CONS

  • Bulky chassis
  • Heats up a bit

6. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3: Best with Intel Core i7

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
  • CPU: Core i7
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSnse
  • Battery: 11.5+ Hours
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review

If you are in the market for a sleek and aesthetic laptop, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 should be the one to purchase. The best part about putting faith in this laptop is the diverse color-specific options and form factors that you can get. Also, unlike the Microsoft Surface Pro X, the Surface Laptop 3 tries to be a proper laptop and not a customizable tablet. 

Design and Display

The Surface Laptop 3 sports magnesium as the key element. The aesthetics, however, are ably complemented by the brilliant 13.5-inch panel, boasting touch support, PixelSense technology, and an aspect ratio worth taking a note of. 

Internals

As far as the memory allocation is concerned, there is 16GB RAM to show for followed by 1TB RAM. If you plan on saving some money, the 512GB and 256 GB SSD variants are also up for grabs. 

Productivity

While the lack of a hard drive is a feature good enough, the processing setup is also commendable, led by an i7 processor. You are also free to select the laptop with a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor. Plus, the Core i5,i7 graphics support in this case is restricted to the Iris Plus. 

PROS

  • Light and portable
  • No hard drive to slow down the processes
  • Touchscreen
  • TPM security chip for faster boot-ups
  • Excellent battery

CONS

  • No dedicated graphics
  • Pricey

7. LG Gram 17: Best Battery Life

LG Gram 17
  • CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i7
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Screen: 17-inch WQXGA
  • Battery: 19+ hours
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review

If you seek a light 17-inch notebook with an excellent battery life, LG Gram 17 is the option to consider. 

Design and Display

Despite being a 17-inch behemoth, the Gram 17 weighs a mere 2.95 pounds. As far as the display configuration is concerned, the WQXGA panel is adequately bright and features an excellent aspect ratio of 16:10

Internals

There is 16GB RAM in place, with two slots ready to be used for upgrades. The 512GB SSD is fast and loads the Windows 10 OS in virtually no time. 

Productivity

The 8th gen i7 processor is a significant addition, paired with the Intel UHD graphics 620 coprocessor. Although the Intel UHD graphics 620 module doesn’t work like the dedicated graphics, NVIDIA GeForce RTX or even GTX series cards, it is still efficient enough. 

In addition to all that, the massive, 19+ hour battery backup is also worth considering while purchasing the same. 

See our full review of LG Gram 17.

PROS

  • Fast processor
  • Excellent storage support
  • Dual-Channel RAM
  • Multiple USB ports with Thunderbolt access
  • Large battery

CONS

  • Not meant for gaming

8. Acer Aspire 5: Best Value

Acer Aspire 5
  • CPU: Core i5
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 1TB HDD
  • Screen: 15.6-inch FHD
  • Battery: 7+ Hour
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review

The Aspire 5 from Acer is arguably the most affordable laptop on the list, best suited for new programmers and coders. 

Design and Display

The streamlined design makes sense and ensures that you can carry this laptop around with relative ease. The 15-inch panel is adequately sharp, vivid, and boasts exceptional viewing angles for you to work outdoors. 

Internals

Coming to the memory, you have 8GB of system memory in place followed by a 1TB hard drive. Although Acer ditches the SSD to incorporate a hard drive, it all makes sense as the storage unit isn’t as slow. 

Productivity

The i5-8265 is a power efficient processor that works in tandem with the UHD 620 graphics coprocessor and 6MB of cache. 

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Ample storage
  • Sleek
  • Sharp visuals

CONS

  • Hard drive slows the boot speeds
  • Not enough battery life

9. Huawei Matebook X Pro: Best Display

Huawei Matebook X Pro
  • CPU: 10th gen i5
  • RAM:8GB/16GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Screen: 13.9-inch 3K
  • Battery: 13+ hours
  • OS: Windows 10
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Review

If you want a great looking notebook that comes with an outstanding feature pertaining to the laptop-smartphone connection, the Huawei Matebook X Pro is the perfect option to invest in. 

Design and Display

In terms of design, the metal-clad structure only measures 0.57 inches in terms of thickness. Plus, this laptop only weighs 2.93 pounds, making it one of the more portable options in the market. 

The 13.9-inch display certainly makes its presence felt with the 3K resolution in play. Plus, the screen exhibits 91 percent screen-to-body ratio, which makes life easier for the programmers. Other relevant attributes include the 1500:1 contrast ratio followed by the 260 PPI. 

Internals

If you have already made up your mind about the Huawei Matebook X Pro, you can pick the system memory variant of choice by either going for 8GB or 16GB of the same. Plus, you can always pick from the list of storage units with 512GB and 1TB being the choices. 

Productivity

Standing tall is the i5-10210U chipset, working hand-to-hand with the GeForce MX250 graphics card. As far as additional productivity is concerned,13 hours of battery backup is worth the splurge. 

PROS

  • Brilliant display
  • 10th gen SoC
  • Top-of-the-line aesthetics
  • Excellent aspect ratio for programmers

CONS

  • Not meant for gaming

10. Apple MacBook Air: Best Fanless Laptop

Apple MacBook Air
  • CPU: Apple M1 Chip
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Screen: 13.3-inch IPS
  • Battery: Up to 15 Hours
  • OS: macOS Big Sur
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Review

If you seek a fanless and ultraportable laptop, the new MacBook Air seems like the best possible choice. 

Design and Display

The MacBook Air is meticulously crafted and offers a 13.3-inch screen. The retina display technology is a way forward, more so with an overall resolution of 2560 x 1600

Internals

You get access to 8GB of system memory and 256GB of storage space. Both these attributes apparently add a lot to the overall performance of the laptop. 

Productivity

The M1 chip is fast and even accommodates Apple’s proprietary GPU. Although the graphics coprocessor isn’t as powerful as a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series GPU, it is obviously more competent than the i5,i7 graphics intel modules. 

PROS

  • Fast laptop
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Silent
  • Durable yet light

CONS

  • Not an upgraded design

Buying Guide to the best laptops for Programming

Looking for the minimum specifications is fine but you must understand the features to look for while investing time and money in finding the best laptops for programming.

Processing Setup

Firsty, any laptop you seek to purchase must at least have a reliable processing setup. If you are a programming novice, a standard Intel core i5 processor with 8GB RAM seems adequate. While app and web developers might have to invest in an Intel Core i7 model, 16GB RAM should be the bare minimum in this case.

Regardless of the processor you choose, a high single-core clock speed and virtualization support are the features to look for.  Also a graphics card is something that you can avoid if you only want to write codes. In that case, integrated Intel UHD graphics seem more than enough. 

Battery

Autonomy might be one of the features that programmers must seek out, as they often need to work even while travelling. Therefore, if battery life is one of the priorities, kindly choose a model that at least offers 10 hours of backup

Utilities

There are certain features that trounce RAM allotment and even processing power when finding the best laptop for programming in 2021 is concerned. While a 14-inch screen is necessary, a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels seems like a good starting point. You might even be interested in anti-glare support on specific screens, adequate USB-C ports, and even the operating system.

Plus, the best laptops for programming also include features like touch screen support, palm rest for working tirelessly, and a more interactive touchpad for managing controls better.

Keyboard

Despite being one of the more underrated traits, a keyboard determines the nature of laptops that you would be using for programming, web development, and other relevant tasks. As a matter of fact, a bright and backlit keyboard with ample key travel is the way to go.

Noise

If you are planning to invest only in the best laptops for programming, it is important to consider a fanless design, much like the MacBook Air. However, the processor in this case needs to have lower TDP levels than usual. 

FAQs

Q1. Which laptop is best for programming?

A1. I still feel that a laptop with ample RAM and Intel core i5, i7, or even i9 processor is good enough for programming. The final choice, however, depends on the complexity you choose to add to the processes, apps, codes, and programs. 

Q2. Do I need a powerful laptop for programming?

A2. You must consider a moderately powerful laptop if programming is one of your priorities. However, the processor generation isn’t the most important metric here and you can even consider coding and programming on a machine featuring the 8th generation Intel core i5, i7, or even i3 processor, provided you choose well. 

Q3. Which laptop is best, HP or Dell, when programming is concerned?

A3. Both are hugely capable OEMs but I prefer Dell more as with the XPS 15, Dell strikes the perfect balance between power and aesthetics. While the Spectre x360 from HP is widely popular, the Dell XPS allows you to address most of the relevant processes with ease. 

Q4. Which laptop is best for programming under Rs. 40000?

A4. If you are viewing this discussion from India, 40000 seems to be a reasonable figure for programming laptops. However, I feel only the Acer Aspire 5 comes in the given porce range and offers excellent programming perks for you to choose from. 

Verdict

There are a lot of factors that you must take into account while purchasing a laptop for programming. While coding, app development, code editing, debugging, and more show up as straightforward processes, there are several considerations to make. For instance, if you have several on-premise resources to code on, sizable storage 256GB, 2TB SSD and even 512GB make sense.

Also, it is better to ditch the hard drive and a smallish screen size, in case you want to get impressive output. Also RAM 8GB, 16GB, or 12GB, seem to suffice,if you are more interested in using the same as the laptop for programming.

Still, if you are confused, it is better to pick the ZenBook Pro Duo as a premium variant or the Aspire 5, if you have budget-specific preferences.

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